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Studying Medicine at Kasturba Medical College in Manipal, India

By Manishka Jayasundara

Manishka Jayasundara studied for his MBBS degree at the Kasturba Medical College in Manipal or Mangalore, Karnataka, India, and graduated in 2010. He shares his undergraduate experiences regarding the application process, studying Medicine and living in India. Details about the MBBS program can be accessed via http://www.manipal.edu/ . The admissions counsellor can be emailed at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


MEDICAL SCHOOL APPLICATION PROCESS:

In which school did you study for your Advanced Levels and what subjects did you study?

I studied at the Colombo International School (CIS) and took Chemistry, Biology, Maths and Physics for my Edexcel London A/L examinations.

Why did you decide to go to Kasturba Medical College (KMC)? What factors did you consider when selecting medical schools?

While studying at CIS I wanted to study medicine in England and applied for universities there, but unfortunately I did not get a place. KMC, Manipal, was my backup university. When I chose Medical colleges in England, I looked at the rank of the college, the cost of living in that area, the total course fee and weather in that area. I kept Manipal as my backup school because my brother was also studying there and the course fee was cheaper. Also the requirements to get in at that time were relatively easy.

What was the application process like?

It was very simple at the time. But that was in 2004 and it has become a lot more complicated now. You will have to email them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to get further details and latest updates. In 2004 when I applied, there was no interview. I applied with my AS level results. Some subjects for London A/Ls are divided in to two sections called Advanced Subsidiary (AS) and A levels. Since I had 3 As for my AS level subjects I was immediately given a position. Over the years the number of SL students who came in decreased, mainly because the quota system to admit foreign students was reduced, and also due to the high course fee and demand for better AL results. The year I left only 1 Sri Lankan student came in.

What requirements did you need to apply?

I just needed my AS level results, but my seat was confirmed only after I got my A/L results. At that time their requirement was a B grade in chemistry and biology and a C grade in physics.

Now, to be eligible for the MBBS course, the study of Physics, Chemistry and Biology in the A Levels and English in the O Levels is essential. Minimum grades required is ‘C’ although with high competition from students of other countries also applying, it is highly recommended to have 3 A grades. Admissions are based on merit.

For the year 2011, the next batch will commence classes on August 1, 2011. Application form and details can be downloaded from the website: www.manipal.edu (click Admissions – International Admissions – Undergraduate). Last date to receive the application is May 31, 2011. KMC does offer conditional admissions to students who will be writing their A Levels in June and results are declared by mid-August 2011 based on their GCE ‘O’ and ‘AS’ level results plus the predicted results.

How much did the application process cost?

The application process was the cost of couriering the documents. I am not updated of the current situation.

Do you need a visa and how much does it cost?

International students apply to the MBBS course at KMC, Manipal or Mangalore, under foreign/NRI category. Yes you need a student visa, but there is no difficulty in getting that. It is given for the whole duration of the course and the cost was close to 9000 Sri Lankan Rupees.


MEDICAL SCHOOL EXPERIENCE:

How difficult are the courses?

It is quite challenging as with any MBBS course. The study material is enormous but anyone going in to medicine should realize it is the norm in any country. There are a lot of names to memorize and processes to understand. The classes are for 125 students but lecture halls are excellent so it doesn’t hinder the learning.

How many courses did you have to take and how long did it take before you graduated?

For my first year I took Anatomy, Physiology, and Biochemistry. In my second year I took Pathology, Microbiology, Pharmacology, and Forensic Medicine. In my third year I took Ophthalmology, ENT, Community Medicine and in my final year I took Medicine, Surgery, Pediatrics, OBG. The complete course finishes in four and a half years plus one year of the compulsory internship. You graduate at the end of internship with an MBBS degree.

Is the internship at Manipal itself or do you have to do it somewhere else?

It is in the teaching hospital in Manipal. But you can do it at any hospital in India if you want. Applying to those hospitals and securing places is entirely up to you.

Do you have to learn another language when studying there?

The medium of instruction is strictly English. But when interacting with patients it is very helpful to know the local language which is Kannada.

How were the Professors? Were they helpful?

The Professors were very helpful and approachable if spoken to with respect.

How many Sri Lankan international students were there in the class? Were there any Sri Lankan faculty?

Each class holds 125 students, and there are 2 such classes in a batch. In my year before they reduced the foreign student admissions there was 1 foreigner to one resident Indian in class. The foreigners include international students and non-resident Indian students. My batch had 14 other Sri Lankans. Now the foreign quota is less and I am not sure of the details. There are no Sri Lankan faculty members at Manipal.

How recognized is your degree around the world? Are there students who went to other countries and practice medicine or applied for higher education or other jobs?

As far as I know, it is recognized by all the major medical boards in USA, England and Australia. I am not sure of the rest. You can check with the individual medical councils. Most foreign students went back to their countries of origin to practice.

Can you come back to Sri Lanka to practice as a doctor and what do you have to do for that?

Any foreign doctor has to pass ERPM (Examination for Registration to Practice Medicine in Sri Lanka), previously known as The Act 16 Exam, conducted by the Sri Lanka Medical Council to practice legally in Sri Lanka. The education I received prepared me well. However the format of exams in Sri Lanka is different, so the format has to be learned by going to the EPRM classes in Sri Lanka.

How long are the EPRM classes? How much does it cost?

Usually 2-3 months before the expected time of exams, there are a couple of places which hold these classes and they advertise in the newspapers so anyone can call in and get the details. The average cost is Rs. 600/- per 3hr class.

How much is the total cost for the university and how long does it take?

The MBBS program is 4.5 years. When I went in 2004 it was US $75,000 to complete the course. Today, the tuition fee for the MBBS course is US $162,000 which is paid in five annual installments. Hostel and mess charges are extra. This should be confirmed when you email them.

Are there any scholarships available?

I don’t know of any scholarships that are available for foreign students.

What was the overall experience of studying like?

Enjoyable, I really liked it.


LIFE IN MANIPAL, INDIA:

Can you describe the first few weeks, settling down?

Settling down was very easy for me as I had my brother there, but the Sri Lankan seniors were very helpful and they have a good society there. I stayed in the hostel throughout my course. They have excellent accommodation with AC single rooms and attached bathrooms. I also ate at the university cafeteria which is plain and ordinary food. Since I did not eat from restaurants much, my cost of living was 4000 Indian Rupees a month. If you eat from restaurants all the time the cost should come up to around 6000-8000 Indian Rupees a month. Since there is no travel expense because the hostel is right next door to the lecture halls, the only real expense is for meals.

What is the travel time/route and cost from Sri Lanka to the university? What about security in and around the campus? Are there hospitals, grocery stores close by?

I usually flew from Colombo to Bangalore (1hr), took the domestic connecting flight to Mangalore (which is 45min) and then a 1hr taxi ride to Manipal. The taxi costs around 700/- Indian rupees but the flight costs change a lot. You can also take a 12hr bus ride from Bangalore to Manipal which costs around 500 Indian rupees.

The campus is really safe. They have security jeeps regularly patrolling the premises and the hostels are located very close by so girls even walk back from the library at midnight. There is a hospital attached to the campus which is walking distance. Many grocery stores which sell almost anything you need are close by.

Where did you hang out the most? Do they have study lounges, library facilities?

There is not much to do in Manipal so it is a good environment to study. They have an excellent library with group study and self study areas. Even all the hostels have study halls which are great for studying.

How big is the Sri Lankan community?

When I went it was close to 80 members but the foreign admissions have decreased due to changes in Indian Government regulations. I think now the Sri Lankan community there might be close to 40 and it will probably keep decreasing.

Any advice for potential students thinking of applying?

Sri Lankan students have a good reputation for being hard working. Keep up the good name!

SL2College would like to thank Manishka Jayasundara for sharing his experience at Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, and would like to wish him the very best in his future endeavours. Azmaan Onies, from the SL2College editorial team, is also thanked for working with Manishka in developing this article.

Date of publication in Sunday Observer: 29 May 2011

This and other related articles are available on www.sl2college.org, under the resources section. SL2College is a global community that provides FREE advice and guidance to Sri Lankan students. Envisioned in 2005, SL2College helps Sri Lankan students access relevant information that would assist them in making informed decisions about their educational goals. Please post your queries on: www.sl2college.org or email - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.